Thursday, June 16, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 16: A Song You Used To Love But Now Hate

Let me just say at the outset that the ONLY reason I didn't choose Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" for today is...

Wait, I'm not sure... can we pick two?

I used to love "Brown Eyed Girl" until I heard every cover band in the country massacre it and had to choke back throw-up in my mouth as tone-deaf bar crowds everywhere shouted along to the "sha-la-la-la-lala-lala-tida" parts. But I suppose the truth is that even still, I like it when it comes on the radio AND ONLY VAN MORRISON IS SINGING IT. Let me just offer an unsolicited PSA here and encourage all of you to never, EVER, sing along to "Brown Eyed Girl." Just don't.

I'm not picking "Brown Eyed Girl" today, but I'm picking a different song for a similar reason. That is, I'm picking a song that I used to love until someone else took it over and ruined it for me. The ruinous agent in this case is none other than the Madame of the Illiterati, Sarah Palin. And the song is "Redneck Woman" by Gretchen Wilson (from her 2004 album Here For The Party). Here's Gretchen Wilson:



And here's Sarah Palin (and a bunch of other mouth-breathers with no rhythm, style or, from the looks of it, detectable pulse) ruining it:



You may remember that Sarah Palin began her all-out assault on this otherwise really fun song during her campaign in 2008. I think she thought it was some kind of a "Main Street" anthem, connecting her with the "real America," ya know? But the truth is that I don't care how many weirdly-named children she produces or how much 5th grade history she misremembers or how many moose (mooses?) she shoots or how few newspapers she reads, Sarah Palin has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN COMMON with the hell-raising, honky-tonking, neighbors-be-damned raucousness of Gretchen Wilson's "redneck woman." Sarah Palin is a Stepford Wife, if only the Stepford Wives were as dumb as a bag of hair. And actually real.

[Shudder to think]

There are lots of reasons to hate Sarah Palin, but ruining "Redneck Woman" is pretty close to the top of the list for me. I really did love this song when it first came out, but now it's impossible for me to hear it and NOT think of The Alaskan Freak Show. There are many things (most things) about the stereotype of "redneck" that I wouldn't want to embrace, but Gretchen Wilson's song captured that little corner of country-fried provincialism that can be more than a tad endearing. I mean, I'll admit it: I do say "hell yeah" and "yee-haw." Sometimes those are the only things that fit. They're Southernisms that have their own irreplaceable place. It's like "fixin'," about which I will maintain to my dying day that there is no adequate English equivalent.

Seriously, damn you , Sarah Palin. As if it wasn't enough for you to make a complete mess of American history and rudimentary vocabulary, you had to go ahead and co-opt one of the better country-pop tunes in the last decade. This is something I cannot forgive.

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